12 September–3 November 2013
The Odeon Site
24 Grafton Way (off Tottenham Court Road)
London WC1E 6DB
An abandoned, overgrown landscape in central London is the site for a new Artangel commission by sculptor Daniel Silver.
Evidence from some kind of archaeological endeavour is lying around; figures and fragments, pieced together. Made in a range of materials including marble, plaster and terracotta, the figures have been worked by hand, modelled and then eroded and deformed. Some seem to have strange, unnatural growths. They appear to be both ancient and modern.
What were they doing here? What are they doing here? What belief system might they embody or watch over? Are they sculptures of gods or men? Like unearthed objects from an unfamiliar culture, Silver’s sculptures do not give up their secrets easily.
One starting point for Dig was Silver’s fascination with Freud’s collection of sculptures. Freud kept an ‘audience’ of some of his favourite figurines—Egyptian, Greek, Indian, Asian and African—on his desk in his consulting room, watching over him and his patients as they dug deep within themselves. Freud often referred to archaeology as a metaphor for his own practice of uncovering desires and phobias.
There appear to be different layers of excavation in Silver’s project: digging into the role of figures of worship, idols and fetishes within different cultures, including our own; and working through the evolution of sculptural forms across time and place, losing old powers and acquiring new meanings as they are fragmented, pieced together and multiplied.
Built in the early 20th century and originally the site of one of London’s largest Odeon Cinemas, the Grafton Way site has been empty for many years. Dig is Artangel’s most recent site-specific commission with a young British sculptor. Over the past two decades, other commissions have included Susan Philipsz’s Surround Me in 2008 in the City of London; Roger Hiorns’s Seizure, 2008 / 2013, originally in a council bedsit in South London and recently relocated to Yorkshire Sculpture Park; and Rachel Whiteread’s House, completed 20 years ago in October 1993.
Dig is commissioned and produced by Artangel with the support of The Henry Moore Foundation. With thanks to University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.